Eric Decker, a Broncos’ third-round pick in the 2010 draft, is a rich man after prospering from free agency.

Demaryius Thomas, a Broncos’ first-round pick in the same draft, is less rich and no doubt frustrated he’s under the Broncos’ control at a fixed salary for a fifth season.

Based on production and the naked eye, Thomas is a superior receiver to Decker. Yet, Thomas will make $3.275 million this season in the final year of his contract while Decker will collect $10 million from the New York Jets in the first year of his new deal.

This illustrates why there is advantage for the Broncos to stay put with their No. 31 selection in the first round rather than, say, trade back to No. 40 and pick up an early fourth-round pick, which would be fair compensation according to the draftcountdown.com trade value chart.

Teams get a club-favorable fifth-year option with their first-round picks.

Players drafted in the second round or later become free agents after the fourth season.

The Broncos could not afford to keep Decker, their No. 2 receiver. They could afford to keep Thomas, their No. 1 receiver.

Using my trade-swap example, the No. 31 draft pick last season, Dallas center Tyler Fredrick, received a four-year, $6.8 million contract. But a fifth-year team option is tacked on. The No. 40 draft pick, Buffalo receiver Robert Woods, got a four-year, $4.92 million deal. He’ll be clear to hit free agency after his fourth season.